There are many strange holiday experiences but one of the best is being able to swim in the sea and ski on the same day and there are few places where this is possible.
Mention the name of one of the countries where you can do this and you’re often met with a look of puzzlement, not just because of the idea itself but because of the country.
Cyprus, believe it or not has very well organised and comprehensive ski resorts at Sun Valley and North Face with something for all as well as great accommodation, good access and cheap prices. What more could you want for a ski break?
Cyprus is best known as a summer sun destination and even now the island is trying to promote itself as a winter sun destination
with temperatures currently in the upper seventies and likely to stay that way until Christmas. So can the island really consider itself a ski destination?
How Mcuh Snow?
The main problem for Cyprus is the reliability of the snow. In 2010, skiing was limited to just a couple of weeks, 2011 was a reasonable year with skiing possible for nearly ten weeks. 2012 was one of the best in recent years with skiers on the slopes from mid-January until the end of April but 2013 had less than a fortnight of good conditions.
The key is not just how cold the weather is but also how much rain the island gets. Over the winter, temperatures in the Troodos fall to -5C by night and around 4C by day. Couple this with cloudy conditions that give rain on the coast and that high – around 6,000ft, there’ll be plenty of snow. In good years you can rely on around 200cm of snow on the lower slopes and around 230 – 250cm on Mount Olympus.
There are four ski lifts, two in Sun Valley on the road up to Mount Olympus and two near the top called North Face I and North Face II.
Both sets are easily reached by road but if there’s been recent snow you’ll find that the roads are tricky and police, stationed at Troodos Square, will turn you back if you don’t have snow chains, winter tyres or a 4x4 vehicle. From Limassol you can head up the main road to Platres, a journey that will take you around 40 minutes whilst from Paphos, the quickest route is along the motorway to Kouklia, before turning off up the Diarizos Valley to Mandria and Platres. Stop there for something to eat before continuing up the much steeper roads to Troodos Square. Once there go through the square, perhaps stopping for a meal if Platres didn’t appeal, then take the road signposted to Mount Olympus and as you climb ever higher you’ll find sleet in Platres turning to snow. Parking gets a little crazy on busy times and at weekends you’ll find you’ll have to walk some distance from your car to the slopes.
Sun Valley is where you’ll find the Cyprus Ski Club where you can hire equipment and get your lift passes. Although the prices haven’t been released for the 2013/14 season, based on last year’s prices you’re going to find the skiing is amongst the cheapest in Europe. Half a day skiing will set you back around €30 including your lift pass with a whole day around €50.
For the novice you’ll find ski instruction at Sun Valley, again reasonably priced with group instruction at around €10 euros an hour and individual instruction at €25. Sun Valley is considered good for beginners although the hillside can look a little daunting. A better choice for those starting is to do the cross country route that goes along the top of the hill then dog legs back through the trees joining the main slope. It’s fun, a little bit of a challenge but you’re unlikely to hurt yourself if you take a tumble.
Heading further along the ridge you’ll come to Sun Valley II which is significantly more challenging – considered a red run, whilst North Face, which comes down off Mount Olympus, is for really experienced skiers only and is the piste used for the national championships.
Piste Map - Skiing in Cyprus
So, does Cyprus appeal for your winter ski trip this year? There are plenty of good hotels in the area, tavernas serving great heart-warming food and, judge it right, great skiing. Depending on the forecast, you could stay in a beachside hotel, hire a car and drive to the slopes on days when the conditions are right then spend the rest of your stay sunbathing. It all sounds very appealing and imagine the strange looks from your work colleagues when you tell them you’re going skiing in….. Cyprus.
Ski Cyprus Images
|Kids ski lessons in Cyprus
||Kids Ski Group Cyprus
|Mount Olympus Summit
||View of Mount Olympus, Cyprus
Ski Cyprus Live Webcam